Despite falling on her way up Mauao and dealing with the high tide and soft sand, it was third time lucky for Sabrina Grogan in the Mount Maunganui King and Queen of the Mountain Race.

The Timaru-based Tauranga 24-year-old won the Queen of the Mount title in the annual Boxing Day challenge, a race that's become a tradition for Grogan and her family.

"It was an absolute priority, it's always a Boxing Day tradition," Grogan said. "I like heading up the Mount."

Wearing shoes with excellent traction didn't work too well for Grogan, who fell while on her way up because of them. The high tide made the beach run particularly difficult too, leaving only soft sand to run on.

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"It's always a tough race," Grogan said of the sprint event.

"I think my limbs will be more sore [today] than they ever are after a longer race, it's just so hard getting up those steps."

It was her third time entering and was stoked to have taken the title because it was a strong group of runners competing.

"It was third time lucky. I didn't go out expecting to win it."

Grogan returned to Tauranga in the middle of this month for Christmas. She says Christmas is always hosted at her parents' home with about 20 other family members. This meant there was a good number of relatives who ventured out to check out the Maunganui King and Queen of the Mountain Race too.

Two of her cousins - Taranaki's Simon Kroon, 23, and 17-year-old Aucklander, Nicky Kroon - also entered the race, with the rest of the family members there to cheer the trio on.

While Grogan beat both of the cousins, it was Simon who earned bragging rights over Nicky, she said.

Grogan said she was very thankful to the organisers and volunteers from the Tauranga Ramblers who put a lot of time and effort into running the event.

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Meanwhile, the first man home to take the King of the Mount Race was Daniel Jones, who reclaimed the title won by Bobby Dean last year. The first to finish the Junior Mountain Race was Elliott Pugh, followed by Adisen Mahy.

Organiser Malcolm Taylor said although they would have liked more entrants, the day went well. About 98 took part in the main race and 20 in the junior race, he said.

However, the day didn't start too smoothly. He said the water supply which had been taken to the summit the evening before the race seemed to have been tampered with, which meant having to take more up on the day of the event.

Taylor said one of the volunteers carried about 20 litres to the top of Mauao on their shoulders to ensure runners had plenty to keep them hydrated.

There also seemed to be more members of the public on the track but Taylor said overall it was a hot but good day.

"I think we coped all right."